The 23rd season of the Barclays Premier League promises to be another riveting fare, just like it was in the previous season. Current Champions Manchester City was hardly runaway winners. Despite enthralling battles in the initial months that yield quite a few shock results, the ‘business end’ boils down to straight shootout between two teams. The nineties saw Manchester United dominate with a vice-like grip on the title, with 1994-95 winners Blackburn Rovers and Newcastle United briefly threatening. Since the late nineties, it was Arsenal, under their revolutionary Arsene Wenger who gave a sustained challenge to United.
The period between 1997-2004 witnessed either Arsenal or Manchester United clinch the title before a new force in form of Chelsea broke the duopoly. Backed by deep reservoirs of cash of Russian Billionaire Roman Abramovich and manager Jose Mourinho, the London-based side romped to two back-to-back titles. Chelsea’s stronghold of the League slowly loosened with Mourinho leaving the club and Manchester United fought back. The Red Devils cruised to three straight titles before Chelsea won their third league title in 2010. During this phase, Manchester City had assembled a star-studded team and threatened to destroy everything in their path. The blue half of Manchester won the title in the dying seconds on the last match day in 2012. Ferguson then pulled down curtains on his glittering career in a blaze of glory, taking United to an unprecedented 12th Premier League win. A rejuvenated City struck back and clinched their second title in 2014.
As mentioned before, from a two-horse race, the last few months saw an intense battle between three teams which went till the last day of the season. Manchester City, Chelsea and Liverpool were wrangled in a nail-biting photo finish before City’s consistency over the season wrestled the title back to the Etihad. Not many expected Brendon Rodgers’ Liverpool to be in the title race but they came tantalisingly close to winning their maiden Premier League title. Manchester City and Chelsea have earned the right to be labeled outright favourites as they have the best all-round squads in the league. With the now Premier League winner Manuel Pellegrini reshaping City to be powerful, attacking team and one of the world’s best tactical minds, Jose Mourinho infusing life back to Chelsea, the most consistent of the two are expected to win the title. Arsenal have lacked bite in the tail end of the season in recent years but have bolstered their team with some star-studded names in the summer transfer window. Liverpool will severely miss Luis Suarez’s goals. New Manchester United manager Louis van Gaal is sure to get the most successful Premier League side back to winning ways. On paper, its City and Chelsea but that is hardly how things pan out on the pitch.
It is somewhat strange to see these teams in this section, having ruled the League in the past it has to be Manchester United and Arsenal. A dismal season saw United finish seventh in the league but manager Van Gaal has proved to quite a magician, if his past record is anything to go by. Arsenal look stronger too but only time will tell if the Gunners can avoid a collapse after getting off to a good start.
Leicester City was crowed champions of the first division and makes their way back into the league after nearly a decade. Burnley finished second in the championship and will make their presence felt after a four-year absence. London’s big-spending Queen’s Park Rangers (QPR) won the play-offs and will be the third promoted side.